Copyright ©2006 Baishideng Publishing Group Co., Limited. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Oct 7, 2006; 12(37): 5941-5950
Published online Oct 7, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i37.5941
Probiotics and prebiotics in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases
Julia B Ewaschuk, Levinus A Dieleman
Julia B Ewaschuk, Levinus A Dieleman, Centre of Excellence for Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Immunity Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Correspondence to: Dr. Levinus A Dieleman, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, 224 Zeidler Ledcore Building, 130 University Campus, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2X8, Canada.
Telephone: +1-780-4921888 Fax: +1-780-4921878
Received: May 20, 2006
Revised: March 12, 2006
Accepted: June 16, 2006
Published online: October 7, 2006

The prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells of the colon exist in a highly complex, but harmonious relationship. Disturbances in this remarkable symbiosis can result in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Although the etiology of IBD is not entirely understood, it is known that the chronic inflammation of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and chronic pouchitis are a result of an overly aggressive immune response to the commensal intestinal flora in genetically susceptible hosts. Recent studies have enhanced our ability to understand the interaction between the host and its intestinal microflora and the role the microflora plays in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. As we begin to understand the benefits conferred to the intestine by the microflora, the notion of modifying the composition of the bacterial load to improve human health has arisen. A significant body of research now exists investigating the role of probiotics and prebiotics in ameliorating chronic intestinal inflammation. This article will begin with an overview of the role of the commensal microflora in maintaining mucosal immune homeostasis, and how a dysregulated immune response to the intestinal microflora results in IBD. This will be followed by a summary of the use of probiotics and prebiotics in experimental and human IBD.

Keywords: Colitis, Crohn’s disease, Microflora, Immu-nity, Probiotics, Prebiotics